Senator continues to push to fill vacancy for full-time doctor at Maui VA clinic
WASHINGTON, D.C. ? In a meeting with U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI) yesterday, Secretary of Veterans Affairs R. James Nicholson announced that VA will be opening up an outpatient health care clinic on the island of Lanai.
Senator Akaka has been a strong advocate for a VA presence to serve veterans on Lanai. Akaka's legislation from the last Congress, S. 1176, required VA to set up a clinic there. Currently, the veterans on Lanai receive only intermittent care from VA providers visiting from Maui. The new clinic will provide consistent service the veterans can depend on. And once the new clinic is operational, VA will pay for specialty and inpatient care needed by veterans at the Lanai Community Hospital.
?The veterans on Lanai, who have served our country with courage, deserve access to a clinic on their island. We have long advocated for a VA presence on the Lanai, and I am delighted with the news,? Akaka said.
Also during yesterday's meeting, Senator Akaka asked for the Secretary's personal attention to a serious issue affecting VA's outpatient clinic on Maui. Since October of last year, the Maui clinic has had no full-time physician, and current information suggests that the earliest date for a replacement will be August. As a stopgap measure, the Honolulu VA has been flying a physician to Maui a couple of times a week. But due to the doctor shortage, waiting times at the Maui clinic are up, and the lack of continuity raises concerns about overall patient safety.
?The veterans living on Maui are suffering, because they lack the physician that they deserve, and the staff there is being overworked. Today, veterans on Maui are not receiving the care they need. This situation is problematic, because waiting times for appropriate care are on the rise. I have asked that VA send a physician from elsewhere in the network to the Maui clinic on a full-time basis until the position is filled permanently,? Akaka said.